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The USS Constitution Sails Again!


"Today, Sunday, August 19th, the world’s oldest commissioned warship will sail under its own power for just the second time in more than a century. The U.S.S. Constitution will be tugged from its berth today and out into the main deepwater pathway of Boston Harbor. This event commemorates the battle in which she won her famous nickname “Old Ironsides.” The historic naval engagement against the British frigate HMS Guerriere took place on August 19, 1812, exactly 200 years ago today.

Chief Petty Officer Frank Neely, a Constitution spokesman and crew member, said that the crew of 65, accompanied by 150 sailors selected to take part, wants to honor the ship with today’s sailing, and to celebrate the completion of a three-year restoration project. While only four of the Constitution’s 36 sails will be unfurled, that should be enough to move the vessel at a minimum of 5 mph (anything over 15 mph would put too much stress on her hull). But the wind forecast for today looks favorable."
(From Legacy Genealogy)

I knew a man who was a direct descendant of Isaac Hull, the commander of the Constitution during it's fight with the British warship, Guerriere, that led to it's nickname, "Old Ironsides". He has since, sadly, passed away. But prior to that he gave me a poem (actually, lyrics to an old song that was set to the music of an even older, Irish song).

The Constitution and the Guerriere

It oft-times has been told, that the British seamen bold Could flog the tars of France so neat and handy, Oh! But they never met their match, till the Yankees did them catch Oh, the Yankee boys for fighting are the dandy, Oh.

The Guerriere, a frigate bold, on the foaming ocean rolled Commanded by proud Dacres, the grandee, Oh! With as choice a British crew as ever a rammer drew Could flog the Frenchmen two to one so handy, Oh!

When the frigate hove in view, says proud Dacres to his crew, "Come clear the ship for action and be handy, Oh! To the weather-gage, boys, get her." And to make his men fight better Gave them to drink, gunpowder mixed with brandy, Oh!

Then Dacres loudly cries, "Make this Yankee ship your prize, You can in thirty minutes, neat and handy, Oh! Twenty-five's enough, I'm sure, and if you'll do it in a score I'll treat you to a double share of brandy, Oh!"

The British shot flew hot, Which the Yankees answered not Till they got within the distrance they called handy, Oh! "Now," says Hull unto his crew, "Let us see what we can do, If we take this boasting Briton we're the dandy, Oh!"

The first broadside we poured carried her mainmast by the board Which made this lofty frigate look abandoned, Oh! Then Dacres shook his head, and to his officers said, "Lord! I didn't think those Yankees were so handy, Oh!"

Our secon told so well that their fore and mizzen fell, Which doused the royal ensign neat and handy, Oh! "By George!" says he, "We're done!" And they fired a lee gun While the Yankees struck up Yankee Doodle Dandy, Oh!

Then Dacres came on board to deliver up his sword. Tho'loth was he to part with it, it was so handy, Oh! "Oh! Keep your sword," says Hull, "For it only makes you dull, Cheer up, and let us have a little brandy, Oh!

Now, fill your glasses full, and we'll drink to captain hull And so merrily we'll push around the brandy, Oh! Johnny Bull may boast his fill, let the world say what it will, The Yankee boys for fighting are the dandy, Oh!


Cait McKnelly 5 years, 9 months ago

I sometimes feel that the War of 1812 gets short shrift in the public school system; that somehow we went straight from the Revolution to the Civil War. Few people seem to know how close we came to being re-subsumed back into Britain and frankly, if it hadn't been for Napoleon giving the Brits such hell, they may have succeeded.

Flap Doodle 5 years, 9 months ago

That's as fine a job of copy/pasting without attribution as I've ever seen on this award-winning website.

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 9 months ago

(From Legacy Genealogy) RTFP, snap. It was a Facebook post. What was I going to link to? What they had for breakfast?

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 9 months ago

By the way, snap, it says something that as righteously cool as this is, your only comment was to snark at me about (what you thought) was non-attribution. Everything after the attribution is MY writing. Unless you mean the song. In which case I would have to go Boston (or maybe New York, or maybe New Hampshire or Connecticut or...you get the picture) and dig up graves or something. Why? Because the song is nearly 200 years old and no one knows who wrote it.
Seriously, snap, get a life.

Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 9 months ago

The War of 1812 was called Mr. Madison's war because a lot of people did not agree with it. Granted, the Americans were angry because the Brits impressed Americans to serve on their ships. But it took an enormous number of men to sail a frigate or a man of war and man the cannon. The USS Constitution is a marvelous ship, no doubt about that, but are you saying that war is righteously cool?

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 9 months ago

it was a lot more than just the British Navy impressing Americans, Frankie. This wasn't just a naval war, although part of it was, because the British were blockading the entire Atlantic coast. British troops in Canada were invading from the north and more attacked New Orleans and were beat back by Andrew Jackson. Remember a little song called "The Battle of New Orleans" that started out , "In 1814 we took a little trip.."?
Now here's something interesting. Did you know that the Battle of New Orleans (which happened in 1815) took place after the war was already OVER? The Treaty of Ghent was signed in December of 1814.
"News of the treaty finally reached the United States after the American victory in the Battle of New Orleans and the British victory in the Second Battle of Fort Bowyer, but before the British assault on Mobile, Alabama.[6] Skirmishes occurred between U.S. troops and British-allied Indians along the Mississippi River frontier for months after the treaty, including the Battle of the Sink Hole in May 1815.
The U.S. Senate unanimously approved the treaty on 16 February 1815, and President James Madison exchanged ratification papers with a British diplomat in Washington on 17 February; the treaty was proclaimed on 18 February. Eleven days later, on 1 March Napoleon escaped from Elba, starting the war in Europe again, and forcing the British to concentrate on the threat he posed."

And no, I am not saying ANY war is "righteously cool". What I DO think is impressive is that USS Constitution is sailing again.

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 9 months ago

By the way, I'm not sure what revisionist historian gave you the idea that "lots of people" were against the War of 1812. They weren't. Impressment of Americans by the British Navy to fight in the Napoleonic Wars may have been the match that set the powder keg on fire But believe me, there was a lot more to it than just that.

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